The Rise and Fall of Carly Fiorina

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This study examines the controversial tenure of former Hewlett-Packard (HP) CEO Carly Fiorina using the ethical leadership construct. Fiorina rose quickly through the ranks at AT&T and Lucent Technologies to become the most powerful businesswoman in the United States when she took the helm at HP in 1999. She prevailed in a bitter proxy fight over the firm's merger with Compaq Computer. However, she was abruptly fired in 2005. Both the CEO and members of the HP board failed as moral persons and as moral managers, leading to Fiorina's ouster and the subsequent HP spying scandal. HP went from one of the world's most admired companies to the target of criminal investigations and public criticism. Implications for leadership ethics are drawn from the experience of HP, and limitations of the ethical leadership construct are identified. Keywords: Carly Fiorina; celebrity CEOs; ethical culture; ethical leadership construct; Hewlett-Packard; pre-texting scandal ********** Carleton (Carly) Fiorina was the most powerful businesswoman in the United States at the turn of the millennium (Nocera, 2006; Sellers, 1998). In 1999, she was hired as the CEO of technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP), becoming the first woman to head a Dow 30 company. She starred in company commercials and joined with entertainment stars like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Sheryl Crow to promote HP products at electronics shows (Stone, 2005). Her image appeared on the covers of business magazines and she was a regular at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She became known by her first name only, like Michael Jordan and Martha Stewart. To HP employees and outsiders alike, there was only one "Carly." In 2005, the HP board of directors fired Fiorina. Yet, both Carly and HP continued in the national spotlight. Fiorina published a memoir, Tough Choices, and appeared on 60 Minutes and on
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